Manchester Arena survivor, 20, overdosed on prescription-only drugs

Manchester Arena attack survivor, 20, who was traumatised by nightly visions of the terrorist atrocity overdosed on a fatal cocktail of prescription-only drugs, inquest hears

  • ‘Bubbly’ Eve Aston, 20, was found unresponsive by her parents in her bedroom
  • She died after taking a a fatal cocktail of drugs that were prescribed to family
  • The Ariana Grande superfan struggled for years to come to terms with the attack
  • Conclusion of drug-related death recorded at Black Country Coroner’s Court

A Manchester Arena attack survivor who was traumatised by nightly visions of the terrorist atrocity overdosed on a fatal cocktail of prescription-only drugs, an inquest has heard. 

Eve Aston, 20, consumed the drugs after struggling for years to come to terms with the tragic bombing during an Ariana Grande concert on May 22, 2017.

The suicide bomb attack, perpetrated by 22-year-old Salman Abedi, resulted in the deaths of 22 victims, while a further 139 people were injured. 

Ms Aston, described as a ‘bubbly’ Ariana Grande superfan, was traumatised by thoughts of Abedi every time she went to sleep, the inquest at Black Country Coroner’s Court heard on Thursday. 

She had attended the concert with father Anthony Aston, but they were caught in a ‘crush’ as thousands attempted to flee the scene.

Eve Aston was described as a ‘bubbly’ Ariana Grande superfan. She struggled for years to come to terms with the Manchester Arena terror attack

Ms Aston, 20, was found ‘unresponsive’ in her bedroom by her father on July 23

Emergency services at Manchester Arena after reports of an explosion at the venue on May 22, 2017

Despite surviving the horrific incident, the ‘daddy’s girl’ was found ‘unresponsive’ in her bedroom by her father on July 23 – just hours after they had lovingly said good night.

Mr Aston, from Wolverhampton, told the court: ‘We could see a change in her, she wasn’t the person she used to be. She turned to drugs.

‘She was the life and soul of the party, so happy, so full of life. That’s why it was such a shock.

‘She kept getting flashbacks – I, myself, I still suffer. She was affected by it. She said every time she was closing her eyes to go to sleep, she could see the bomber.’

Toxicology tests found ‘very high concentrations’ of the antidepressant Citalopram and opiate painkiller Dihydrocodeine in Ms Aston’s blood, which had been prescribed to family members.

The inquest heard that ‘one or both drugs resulted in her death’, with concentrations found to be at a level ‘normally associated with fatalities’.

Mr Aston added: ‘Recently we started seeing signs of the old Eve coming back. The last six weeks of her life, she was more of the bubbly Eve, happier.

‘She was looking forward to see KSI a Youtuber who was playing in Birmingham in October. She even had a countdown on her phone for that.’

On the night of her death, Ms Aston had gone to bed at 11pm after spending the evening watching television with her family.

The inquest heard that her father recalled hearing her on the phone at around 2am, but did not see her during the day. 

As a result, her parents decided to check on her in the evening.

They entered the bedroom expecting to pull her out of bed, but discovered she was dead at around 8.30pm. 

Mr Aston, who cares for his wife Amanda, continued: ‘The night before, she was acting normally. We were watching a programme we like watching.

‘At 11pm, she said she was going to bed. She said goodnight and “love you” like she always did.’

He said it was ‘not unusual’ for the family to go period of time without seeing Eve as she had her own routine. 

British authorities identified Salman Abedi as the suicide bomber responsible for the explosion which killed more than 20 people

Armed police at Manchester Arena following reports of the explosion at the Ariana Grande concert

‘I went upstairs, I was expecting to say “come on Eve, wake up, you need to get into some kind of routine” and that’s when I saw her’, Mr Aston added.

‘I knew straight away.’

Ms Aston had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and was referred to mental health services following the terrorist attack, but the court heard she did not follow up on appointments.

The aspiring mechanic had cut her arm before and ‘flippantly’ claimed she would kill herself, her father said told the court.

However, her family scoured her bedroom following her death and found no evidence she had intended to kill herself, the inquest heard.

Mr Aston, who said his wife could not bear to attend the inquest as the death had ‘knocked her for six’, said his daughter was a ‘normal girl’ before the bombing.

Describing the attack, he recalled ‘quite a lot of people came running towards us’ and there was a ‘bit of a crush’.

He added that the pair had seen ‘people outside with bloody legs’, but it was not until the drive home that they heard details of what had taken place on the radio.  

Black Country Coroner Zafar Siddique recorded a conclusion of drug-related death after declaring he could not be sure Ms Aston had intended to kill herself. 

He told the court: ‘She had some difficulty coping with what happened. She used a number of recreational drugs, including cannabis, and was open with her family about that.

‘She talked flippantly about taking her own life but the family believe she did not really mean that and it wasn’t said with any intent.

‘These were drugs that were not prescribed to her but other family members. It appears, on balance, she has taken these from other family members.

Hundreds gather at Victoria station in Manchester to remember those who died on the fourth anniversary of the attack

‘Based on the evidence, I can’t say whether she intended to take her own life, whether this was a deliberate overdose or accidental overdose. It’s not clear on the evidence.

‘She clearly was planning ahead. It doesn’t look like there was any intention to take her own life at that stage.’

In the wake of her death, more than £8,000 was raised for Ms Aston’s funeral. 

During a tribute at Wolverhampton’s Bantock Park, loved ones also released dozens of balloons in her memory to Ariana Grande’s song ‘One Last Time’ 

Her heartbroken mother Amanda said at the time: ‘From the moment she was born she was a jolly soul, she had a very funny sense of humour and was a daddy’s girl.

‘She went to the Ariana Grande concert with her father and was made up to be there, Ariana was her idol. She could sing every note.’

Abedi blew himself up at Manchester Arena, while his brother Hashem is serving life in prison for helping build the bomb.

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